Advice from PTUK / PTI / PTIrl / APAC during the COVID-19 Emergency

The health and well-being of all registrants, their clients and their families is the primary concern of Play Therapy UK, Play Therapy International, Play Therapy Ireland and APAC and our advice is based upon Government instructions.

With the gradual relaxation of the lockdown measures, we advise all members to keep up to date with the latest advice from their respective Governments as well as the information provided on the PTUK/PTI/PTIrl/APAC websites.

The APAC, PTUK and PTI offices are operating with very restricted resources and, therefore, it may take longer than we would wish to respond to your individual queries.  

Procedures for Returning to Work / School

The PTUK/PTI/PTIrl Procedures for Play Therapists Returning to Work / School can now be downloaded from the ALMS Resource pages.  These procedures include a template Risk Assessment and revised Parental Permission Form.  The Risk Assessment should be completed for each setting a Therapist works within. Therapists should also ask the parents/guardians of all their clients to read, complete and sign the revised Parental Permission Form prior to any therapy with their child taking place. 

APAC Courses

If you are currently enrolled on a Certificate in Therapeutic Play Skills or Diploma in Play Therapy course, please check your emails regularly.  All weekends for courses which were scheduled to take place up until 25th July 2020 have now been postponed; your cohort will be contacted to arrange a replacement date that is convenient for all.  The APAC Office will contact you by email should it be necessary to postpone future course weekends.

Hand-in deadlines will be extended for academic and clinical portfolios.  New dates will be confirmed for each cohort, once the situation becomes clearer.  Please do not submit your portfolios to the office until you are instructed by your Course Director to do so.

If you have any queries about your assignments, placements hours or hand-in dates, you should, in the first instance, make contact with your Course Director.

For further advice relating to the interruption of your studies, please see our Frequently Asked Questions on ALMS

PTUK Conference 2020

Revised dates for the Conference at Wychwood Park Hotel, Weston, Nr. Crewe are below:
Pre-Conference Follow Up Days: 23rd October 2020
Plenary Conference Day: 24th October 2020
PQ Courses: 25th – 31st October 2020

The updated Conference brochure and registration form can be downloaded from the PTUK Website here.

If you already have accommodation booked at Wychwood Park, it will have been automatically transferred to the equivalent dates in October  However, you should contact the venue directly to confirm your booking.

Play Therapy Sessions during School Closures

You must not see clients privately if schools are closed.

The break in sessions should be treated in the same way as if the client/play therapist were absent through illness or taking a holiday.  You should explain the situation to your client either in person or, if a face-to-face ending is not possible, by letter and let them know that you will be thinking of them and will be in contact again as soon as possible.

Where schools remain open for the children of key workers or for vulnerable children including those who have an Education, Social and Care Plan, you should liaise with the Head Teacher as to whether your sessions can go ahead or not.  You will need to decide on the balance between providing appropriate care for these vulnerable children as opposed to the risk of spreading the virus.  You should not use sand trays or puppets with your client during these sessions.

You should continue to take every precaution to minimise the risk of infection including ensuring that all surfaces in the playroom are regularly cleaned and disinfected and, without fail, between sessions.

The Government guidelines clearly state that regular hand washing is one of the most effective ways of countering cross-infection and you should adhere to this advice.

If you are qualified and seeing clients privately as an independent play therapist, you must make the decision of whether or not to go ahead with the play therapy session based on your own judgement and Government advice. If you do hold any sessions, you must ensure that these sessions take place in an environment that complies with all current Government advice regarding hygiene and disinfection.

Online Therapy Sessions 

It is the opinion of PTUK that Play Therapy Sessions such as Tele Therapy should not be undertaken remotely as the possibility of emerging difficulties and unconscious processes means that the session cannot be held safely online. There is no reason during the present times to lower standards and the PSA supports this advice.

That does not mean you cannot contact your clients online; prepare a therapeutic story for them, give them play not therapy activities to do such as drawing or other activities that they would like to do. These holding sessions can continue weekly but would not be 40 minutes in length - more likely 20 minutes so as to not go too deeply into any issues.

PTUK/PTI/PTIrl understands the need for self-employed practitioners to have an income. APAC, PTUK, PTI and PTIrl face similar challenges in that there is no income until courses can be run again and consequently all the companies, like you, need to manage their resources carefully.

Nonetheless, it does not mean that APAC, unlike some other organisations, is trying to make money out of this situation by providing training with methods that are unsafe to use and which lower the standards.

The way you were taught by APAC has proved in research to be the best method of working with children and getting excellent results. However, this method, as you know, works with unconscious processes and these are not safe to explore on-line. You can talk to a child and, if you have been trained as a counsellor or have done the CYP course, then those additional skills will help you to support a child on-line, but please do not use play therapy, Tele Therapy or other such practices. If you want to provide treatment plans without using play therapy but rather be creative with the skills you have learnt and do not go deep, then use the contact time as described above.  Please send your plans to me and I will reply with comments to you.

If they turn out to be suitable, you can also share them with others BUT please let me look at them first.

Continuous Professional Development during the COVID-19 Emergency

Continuous Professional Development (CPD) is essential for maintaining and developing professional knowledge and standards necessary to remain on the Accredited Register.  The normal requirement is to undertake 30 hours of allowable activities each year.  However, this year, due to the extraordinary circumstances of the COVID-19 emergency, we will be reviewing the number of CPD hours you will require for revalidation once we know for how long social distancing measures have been in place. The number of CPD hours required will then be adjusted pro-rata for 2020-2021.

The main principle for CPD is that you can attend, without having to get permission from PTUK, any CPD event run by well known professionals in the play therapy or psychological field at an established venue, as long as you are able to justify, in Caerus/Fortuna, at revalidation time, how each workshop has contributed to the development of your play therapy practice - not your counselling or educational practice. 

You would normally gain 1 CPD point for every face-to-face hour of training in Category 1 (Short Courses on Professional Issues) and Category 2 (Seminars or Conferences). CPD for on-line courses can normally only be claimed for Category 5 (Working Party/Advisory Board and Other Meetings) and Category 6 (Personal Development).

However, during this period of interruption when face-to-face training is not possible, we will allow you to undertake some CPD training by participating in one of the many on-line courses that are currently available.  You will be able to gain half points for on-line courses that fall under Category 1 or Category 2. For example, for an on-line course in Category 1 or 2 which lasts 3 hours, you could claim 1 1/2 points altogether up to a max of 12 hours out of 20 permitted for Category 1/2.  This would leave you with 8 remaining hours for Category 1/2 which could be claimed from attending the PTUK Conference. 

You will be advised of any further changes or amendments to CPD requirements once the current Covid-19 measures are relaxed or lifted.

 

Supervision

With regards to supervision, if schools are closed and your therapy sessions are suspended as a result, you will not need supervision.

If it is appropriate, you may undertake supervision by Skype or Zoom.  This applies to your sessions with both Certified and Approved Supervisors during this emergency. These would be seen as holding and support sessions for the therapist, if appropriate, but are not compulsory. However, you must follow the Skype protocol that each session is of 1 ½ hours duration or half that time if you mutually agree to this.